Monday, May 14, 2018

Nashville ’18: Found Footage 3D

How do you make found footage even more annoying? Adding 3D ought to do the trick (and vice versa). Granted, it would be hard to explain why anyone would shoot the footage to found in 3D, but that will not stop an aspiring sleazy filmmaker from staking his claim to the first 3D found footage movie. However, things get meta when the evil entity thingy at their remote cabin location starts responding to the 3D cameras in Steven DeGennaro’s Found Footage 3D (trailer here), which screens (in 3D) as part of the 2018 Nashville Film Festival.

Derek is the producer of Spectre of Death, which he “co-wrote” and will co-star in with his ex-wife Amy. Yep, already super awkward, even before you take into account his socially inept brother Mark (who serves as editor, camera man and director of the crowd-funder behind-the-scenes footage) has long carried a torch for Amy. Derek has hired Andrew, a reasonably legit director, but he constantly makes it clear he is the one calling the shots. Their sound guy Carl is also a pro, who happens to owe Derek money. Their PA Lily has never worked on a film before, but her job is obviously making Amy jealous, but she is really not that kind of person.

Of course, the cabin where they will be shooting and bunking looks all kinds of sketchy. There even seems be dried blood stains on the floor. Yet, the hardy crew persists. Admittedly, they should have left the first night, but all their bickering and in-fighting convincingly distracts them from the ominous dark something lurking in slightly out-of-focus in the corners of Mark’s frames—until it is too late.

FF3D is not quite as meta as it initially sounds, but that is not exactly a tragedy. The underlying concept still manages to breathe some life into found footage sub-genre. It also boasts more character development than nearly all of its found footage predecessors combined. There are some strong personalities in this film, starting with the spectacularly obnoxious Derek, but also including the sarcastic Carl, recovering-co-dependent Amy, and the increasingly exasperated Andrew.

As Derek, Carter Roy truly chews the scenery like madman. He really goes all out, but by doing so, he really sets up all the uncanny business that eventually goes down. Likewise, Alena von Stroheim (yes, the great granddaughter of the Greed director) makes Amy a remarkable bundle of hot mess neuroses. Scott Allen Perry counter-balances them quite drolly, as the acerbic but more down-to-earth Carl. Tom Saporito also serves as a partial audience surrogate as he becomes at first impatient and then thoroughly disgusted with Derek and Amy’s melodrama, as well as Carl’s attitude. Yet, perhaps the funniest turn comes from genre critic Scott Weinberg, playing himself, making an ill-advised set-visit to Spectre of Death (you just have to see it for yourself).

This is probably the most original true Blair Witch-style found footage film since the Dark Tapes anthology and the funniest since maybe the underrated V/H/S Viral. However, the considerable time admirably devoted establishing characters and setting the scene could have been pruned a little, because the legit horror movie business does not really get going until after the halfway point. Regardless, it is cool to see a genre filmmaker give a tired convention a fresh new spin and largely pull it off. Recommended with a fair degree of enthusiasm for horror fans, Found Footage 3D screens this Friday (5/18) and Saturday (5/19), during the Nashville Film Festival (and it also streams exclusively on Shudder).